The little girl, who taught her dolls a lesson in the 1960s, now wanders through the department store’s cosmetics aisle. An advertising operation that does not please everyone.
In Martine does her shopping in 1964, a little girl bought “a pound of cookies”whereas today in Martine at Galeries Lafayetteshe walks the “Beauty Gallery” of the Parisian department store, a surprising commercial turning point for this popular heroine. This new album is released on Friday, exclusively in the stores of this brand. Bookstores won’t be able to get it. The practice is not new, but is still “denounced by booksellers”comments the general delegate of the Syndicate of the French bookstore, Guillaume Husson, questioned by AFP.
However, “It would no doubt have been difficult for booksellers to sell such an identified title to one of their competitors, not to mention that Martine is a fairly dated heroine whose sales have been in decline for many years”he adds.
On the contrary, assures Céline Charvet, Casterman editions, Martine remains “a great success”. The proof: “We were surprised by its magnitude when we relaunched the series. We had printed 15,000 copies thinking that they would last two years, and after three weeks we reprinted..
The two creators of the character, both Belgians, are no longer of this world. Screenwriter Gilbert Delahaye, originally a poet, died in 1997. Cartoonist Marcel Marlier, in 2011.
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Martine an “influencer” like no other
They left a rich work of 60 titles, Martine at the farm in 1954 at Martine and the Mysterious Prince in 2010, through Martine at school, Martine little rat of the opera or Martine goes camping. Casterman had the series reboot in June 2021 with Martine at the Louvre (50,000 copies sold to date), then Martine at the Palace of Versailles in May (30,000 copies). This remains far from the sales of the years 1950 to 1980: Casterman estimates that 110 million copies of “Martina” in total were sold in French.
“Galeries Lafayette are an exception in the collection, a partnership”according to Anne-Sophie Congar, early childhood editorial manager at Casterman. “Why shouldn’t the heroine (…) become an influencer?”asks fashion news website FashionUnited. “This book is a good illustration of our brand’s ambition to offer our visitors from all over the world a unique experience on each visit”comments the communications director of Galeries Lafayette, Guillaume Houzé, in a press release from the group.
If on the second page of the adventure Martine passes by the “Beauty Gallery”, in front of shelves of beauty products, it is for the sake of realism. “We have to go back to this place” in the Parisian department store, adds the editor. On the cover, the authors remain the same: Gilbert Delahaye and Marcel Marlier. Inside, in very small print, we discover that the text is in fact signed by a woman, Rosalind Elland-Goldsmith. This Franco-British had already rewritten in three years, from 2015 to 2018, the 60 Martinato adapt them to the taste of the day.
We didn’t turn Martine into a feminist heroine. The goal was to make him a timeless character, respecting the original work.
“The securities of the fund tended to lose their audience”, remembers Céline Charvet. Martine had two flaws. His stories were too long for an audience that had grown younger, around four years old today. And according to the editor, readers invited to give their opinion “stumbled on stereotypical representations of what a girl and a boy, a father and a mother were”.
For example, the title of Martine little mother, which implied that the little girl was destined to become a mother and was training for this role, has changed. Martine keeps her little brothermore neutral, is faithful to the plot of this 1968 album. “We didn’t turn Martine into a feminist heroine. The goal was to make him a timeless character, respecting the original work.explains Ms. Charvet.
As for the drawings, they have not moved, even in the new albums. They are always those of Marcel Marlier. “We have a considerable reservoir of images, of exceptional quality”says Ms. Congar. “The requirement is to continue to draw from this source, since it is the memory that readers keep of Martine. For those who have forgotten the stories, the images have remained in their retina..
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